Bait and Witch was my first ARC that I received for 2021. If you aren’t familiar with ARC’s they are advanced reader copies that are given in an exchange for an honest review. I was pretty excited to get this copy because it combined two of my favorite things, magic and cozy mysteries. There were a lot of great things about this book but it just didn’t hit the mark for a 5 star read. The main issue that prevented me from giving this 5 stars was that it was a little hard to connect with the main character. But there were some magical things that happened in the book that I honestly loved. Talking books anyone? Well, technically they only spoke in Josie’s head, but still! Being able to just hear the name of the book someone needs and it help them in some way would be such a cool power to have.
The book itself starts off with Josie accepting a job in a library in some small town. At first it seems normal, until you find out that she is actually on the run from something. Then a body shows up and Josie is convinced that it was someone trying to find and killer her! Okay, so that is what really drew me in. Why was someone trying to kill her? What was so special about her that makes someone want to travel cross country to kill someone? And then you have the slow addition of magical things happening. The books whispering and making suggestions, and Josie matching people to things that they didn’t even know they needed. She slowly starts to have a positive effect on the people in this small town. But of course everything isn’t all butterflies and sunshine. The library she just got a job at might be closing, someone is trying to kill her, and she started to have some feelings for the rich benefactor of the library but he too is hiding a secret.
So, there were a lot of things that were happening in this book because the author was trying to set the stage for a series. You have Josie who has something magical unlocked inside of her. The reveal with this one seemed a little rushed. Pretty much things began to happen but then another character was used to fill in what happened to her and the magic inside of her all these years. It just felt like there she was the last to know about her abilities and everyone was just like “oh yeah you are totally special”. That part was disappointing BUT I understand why it was done. There was a lot of ground to cover in this book so the reader needed to get some of that information somehow. I did love that her ability causes her to be able to have a connection with books. This was a fun thing and I look forward to seeing that develop in the next book in the series.
Overall, the murder mystery portion of the book was very interesting. I will admit, I had my suspicions but the killer did end up surprising me! Just like Josie, the reader is lead to believe that everything is tied to the reason she is in hiding but the truth is a lot more complicated. The reader had to really pay attention to all the clues and characters that were introduced. Not everything is as it appears to be. Sanders also did an amazing job making the library itself, its own character. I can’t wait how that develops later in the series. I believe this is a great beginning to a new series, but I am hoping the next book delves more into her powers and allows the reader to connect with her a little better. This was an interesting start to a new series.